You’re Not Going to Meet Your Husband Tonight

If I’m being honest (which I always try to be on this blog), I’ve been kind of lame lately.

My friends would probably agree – especially since they’re always coming up with fun things to do – but this summer, I’ve had so much going on that going out hasn’t really been on the top of my mind.

So maybe that’s why last Saturday night felt a little strange to me.

I was sitting with my new friend (and roommate!), C at a bar seriously lacking men in the West Village on Saturday night, trying to figure out why my stomach was in knots. While I’ve been single the last three years, I have experienced that same night over-and-over again: dinner followed by bar hopping, followed by possible drunken kisses with cute strangers, followed by a late night in and an early morning up, cursing the hangover gods for their cruel intentions.

But last Saturday, something felt different.

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So I’m Pretty Sure I Was Catfished…

worstdate1The first rule of online dating is to keep your boobs off the internet. The second rule is to never, ever (EVER!) text too much before meeting your match in real life. And maybe don’t commit to dinner with someone you’ve never met offline, either. I learned the latter two lessons after going on what I consider one of the very worst dates in my life (the guy who cried was a bad one too. And the one that blatantly asked if I shaved my you-know-what 20 minutes into drinks—but more on those real winners later).

I connected with Jordan on OkCupid—and his first message to me was uncharacteristically charming. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was enough for me to click on his profile and go through the mental checklist I always use to determine if I want to respond or not:

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What to Do If Your Date Stands You Up (I Would Know)

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 1.50.45 PMIf there’s anything that’s annoying to hear after years of flying solo, it’s that friend-of-a-friend who excitedly says, “OMG, I have the PERFECT person for you. He’s great. Can I set you up?”

I never know the right way to accept or decline the offer, so I usually just nod and smile, remember my Southern social graces and allow my number to be passed on. My mentality is usually, hey, if he makes a move, I’ll go out with him. It can’t hurt to add another one to the long list of could-be boyfriends, right? So when I heard from Luke only 12 hours after this friend-of-a-friend sang my praises, I was pleasantly surprised to learn—via text—that he was actually…kind of awesome?

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How I Started Writing About Love (and the Lack Thereof)

I’m so excited to announce my new weekly dating column for WomensHealthMag.com. Check out my first post below! 

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I’ll never forget my first date in New York City.

I was 19 years old and interning at a women’s magazine, living in my college’s loft at 24th and Park for the summer. I had imagined myself much more mature than I actually was, and because my fake ID (sorry mom and dad!) said that I was 21, I spent a lot of time at bars post-interning hours. It was at some bar in Murray Hill that I met Joseph—a 28-year-old finance guy.

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How to Breathe

During the summer in New York, right around 8 p.m., as we’re heading off to indulge in sangria and sunsets, there is an orange shadow that cascades across the streets, beaming off the buildings, and leaving everything it touches with a crisp, bronzed haze. It is one of my favorite moments in the city all-year-round, and regardless of where I am or who I’m with, just seeing the amber reflection is enough to distract my attention and make me take a big breath.

I was thankful for a moment of clarity before meeting Mr. Unexpected for a celebratory sushi and sake date on Friday night, after a very long, very exasperating week. I had a hard time sleeping every night last week, my nerves never calming down from the many changes of the past few months circling in my head and enticing my heart to race. And though I always get a little anticipant to see Mr. Unexpected, once we start talking, he has a certain way of calming me down, too. Sitting across from him, with the citrus sun still radiating above us, I took another big breath of pure stress release.

In fact, I’ve been reminding myself to breathe a lot lately.

To say this year has been ripe with change, expenses and new experiences would be a vast understatement. If anyone would have told me all of the things that would happen in 2014, I would have never believed them.

Just to recap:

  • My dad had unexpected heart surgery at the start of the year.
  • I had my last day at iVillage – after three years – on a Thursday in April.
  • The next day, I left for a 10-day trip to Paris and Rome with my mom.
  • Two days after I got back, I started my exciting, challenging and entertaining job at WEtv.com.
  • Then I got in – via raffle – to the NYC marathon.
  • Two weeks later I met who I thought would be my roommate for an October 1 move date.
  • Then I realized my lease ended on September 1. (You know, when I’ll be in London visiting J for a week.)
  • Which means I would have to move by August 15.
  • Two weeks later, I met Mr. Unexpected.
  • 20+ dates later, we are an actual thing.
  • The roommate, who I thought would be moving with me, couldn’t anymore.
  • I decided that I couldn’t possibly train for the marathon, go on a big trip, do well in my new job and find an apartment and train for the marathon. So I backed out.
  • So with a month to go to find an apartment, I somehow found two roommates.
  • And a subletter for my current apartment – for just a month.
  • I signed a lease yesterday. To move to the East Village!

Whew.

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And Then Mr. Unexpected Came Along…

The weeks after I returned from Europe were one big blur: getting over jet lag, starting a new job that starts an hour earlier than my last one, and getting my finances, insurance and 401k set up and settled.

Needless to say, I wasn’t focused on dating and quite honestly, didn’t have much time or energy for it. (Especially since all the running blogs were telling me I needed to start my marathon training… yesterday.) It was after a long, sweaty run in Central Park on a Wednesday, while I was picking up odds and ends at the grocery store that the dating app, Hinge yelled at me for not logging in for a while.

You could be missing great matches! It said.

Mmmk, Hinge. Whatever you say.

I’m not really a big fan of Hinge and at that point, I had never been on a date from it, mainly because while the concept is smart (10 matches a day, must have at least a third-degree Facebook connection), the technology is lacking. Most of the time when I opened it, it crashed before I could even decide if I thought a guy was cute or not.

So why I decided to open it that day, I still don’t know, but I did. And I’m glad I gave it a whirl, because there waiting in the inbox was a message sent while I was in Rome from…

…Mr. Unexpected.

It was hard to tell exactly what he looked like – he isn’t a big fan of having his picture taken. But from the few selections, I could tell I was into this tall, dark, Greek daytrader – who apparently liked sports, dogs and fishing. He went to college in North Carolina, so at the very least, I reassured myself, he would understand and maybe share my Bojangles obsession (and extreme longing for it). His message was smart and short, enough to get my attention but not so intense it turned me away. I responded with my phone number (not in my character, but I had to get off that faulty app before it completely failed).

Mr. Unexpected asked me out for the next day – a Friday, after work. He hinted to dinner but kept it cool with drinks first – ya know, just to make sure we could tolerate one another for an entire meal.

Turns out we could. And that’s when everything started to become rather unexpected:

I usually don’t get tipsy on a first date – but by the time we headed to Bowery Kitchen, I lost all track of time and wits and … I had already downed three cocktails. He ordered us a bottle of red at dinner and suddenly, the me with a big appetite, had zero interest in the lobster roll or the skirt steak… instead I wanted to be that girl who kissed a guy on a first date in a restaurant. (Sorry -I’m not sorry- other patrons!)

When we left, we got caught in the rain and huddled underneath an umbrella, his 6’3-self attempting to hold it over his head and my head without both of us getting soaked (it didn’t really work, but was cute, nonetheless). We found a covered building and made out for a bit, laughing at the irony of the “romantic kissing scene,” and generally just savoring the unexpected moment.

And then I became Ms. Unexpected myself:

We could go to a place near my apartment, I said. I have to walk Lucy anyway.

We grabbed a cab uptown from Soho and had another glass of wine before heading back to my place- I won’t give details (quite yet) but while a deed wasn’t done, it was evident that Hinge quite accurately predicted a vibrant chemistry. So much in fact, that after a restless sleep, two giant iced coffees and a stroll in the dog park, I went to brunch and flying trapeze with M, took a shower, took a power nap, and headed downtown again to meet him, less than 24 hours later for dinner and drinks.

And so far, a month later, he’s still proving that the unexpected can be so much easier, so much sexier, so much more relaxed than when you follow the rules.

Because I’ve been having a lot of fun breaking them.

I don’t ever take home someone on the first date, and I usually never agree to dinner so early in. I rarely do back-to-back dates, or as I’ve called our first/second date: the marathon date. (If only actually running the marathon would be the easy!) I usually try to be nonchalant and uninterested, playing a game that I’m not good at until the bitter end, but instead, we send each other slightly inappropriate memes, pictures of our dogs, talk sports (ahem, thanks E for explaining hockey to me) and just let it flow.

As for Mr. Unexpected, he continuously sparks my curiosity with his candor, his charisma, the way he challenges me – in many ways – and what he picks for dates – a Yankees Game (my first one), a family-owned Spanish restaurant he frequents, potato chips and beer in bed, watching YouTube and perhaps a comedy show in the week the come.

From how it started to where it’s going – the most exciting part and yet, the thing that makes me at ease, is how I never saw it coming. And for once, I put aside the things that make dating feel like such a chore, and I just let someone surprise me. I just went with it and let the ride take it’s course.

Ya know what? Six or seven (or something?) dates later, Mr. Unexpected is still keeping me on my toes. And as he said, “I can’t be ‘unexpected’ forever, I have to turn into something, right?

He does. And I bet I won’t expect whatever that will be.

He Loves You

You will wear blue on your first date – that dress from Calvin Klein that you got on sale at TJ Maxx, that your best friend made you buy because it makes your eyes pop. It will take every last single ounce of energy you have to actually leave the comfort of Netflix and takeout to join a stranger – yet another stranger for drinks at a place far too many subway stops away. You’ll wear flats and change into heels. You’ll put on that lipstick that promises to stay on past infinite drinks and hours (but really never does). You will answer the same questions with the same answers, you will smile on cue and you’ll never miss a line. Until you do. Until something feels different. Until something – or someone – puts you off your game. Throws you off an edge. Challenges you to put yourself – and that tricky little heart – out there more. One date will turn into another, which will turn into texts and phone calls and more dates, and more words and more touching and more feeling. More, more, more! It will all start to feel like more than before, than what you thought you were still capable to experience with an open heart and lofty imagination. You will become a lighter version of yourself, wondering when the other shoe will drop, when the dark demons in his closet will make their grand appearance, when the texting will cease to continue, when all of the everything will crumble. As it has. As it does. As it… hasn’t, so far? You will keep holding your breath until…

…he loves you.

You will change your Facebook status and he won’t mind. It might not mean much to him but the switch is enough to help you rest a little easier, knowing that cyberspace received the memo that he is taken. That you are, too. You will feel strangely uncomfortable bound to something committed and monogamous, a term that hasn’t entered your vocabulary in such a long time, you may have to look up the definition to remember it. You will have sleepovers and he will meet your friends. You’ll add him on Gchat. He’ll change your name to “Blue Eyes” in his phone, because that’s what he calls you. You’ll challenge yourself to go a couple of days without mentioning his name to your friends – mainly because you hear the annoyance in their replies – not because you have ran out of things to share. You will notice things of his left behind at your apartment, things that are so ordinary they should be insignificant but as his watch lays next to your perfume, his toothbrush next to yours, they feel so much more powerful – so oddly romantic – that you have to stop yourself from looking at them. You will go away for the first time and he will introduce you to his parents. You’ll let him walk your dog all by himself. You’ll talk about next year like it’s guaranteed, and you’ll pretend you don’t think about the bigger things that every relationship columnist (including myself) will tell you to never speak of until the time comes. Your heart will finally experience all of those things it was always promised but never believed would happen. You will feel those tingly, giddy, ridiculous things that you never wanted to be that girl who smiled like that over some guy. But you are. Because that guy – that man you’re falling for…

…he loves you.

You will wonder if you moved in together too quickly or if the beautiful rush of the beginning could cause an ugly crash at the end. You will compare yourself to every relationship, every right thing or wrong thing that you’ve perceived in your mind to determine love, until you really can’t take the pressure anymore. You will study his face in the way you did when you first met – when you used to count his freckles and admire his long eyelashes – and instead, you’ll try to find that glimpse of attraction that used to make you weak in the knees. You’ll wonder how those original images of perfection faded into something so everyday, something so routine that you can’t (honestly) remember the last time you made love. Or had really hot, dirty sex. You will do your best to stomach the envy you harbor over those girls who still get to feel those butterflies, that precious new-beginning anxiety that is so terrible in the moment, and so seemingly beautiful when you look back at it, now. Now. Years into your relationship. Years into love. Years into answering questions about who will do the dishes and who will pick up the rice and who will buy the dog food this week. Years into building a life with the man that you think – that you truly, really know – is The One. So why isn’t it magical all the damn time? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be if…

…he loves you?

You’ll reach a happy place. It won’t come all at once, like life often does, but instead it’ll gradually manifest into something so powerful that you don’t need to label it to enjoy it. You will let go of those notions that you held so dear and you’ll trade them for the reality. The reality of watching reality TV and splitting a six pack with pizza on a Saturday night in your pajamas because there are no needs for the frills anymore. But you won’t forget about those frills, either. They are there in the back of your mind, in the corners of your memories, in those stolen moments that you still have from time-to-time when you take a weekend away. In those brief seconds where you see him from across the bar and his glance doesn’t catch you first, but you catch that feeling you had when you first met. You’ll find yourself amazed at how much you really do love him, how much he really does get you going. How much the deeper love is harder and less exciting than the superficial one. But it’s better. It’s so much better. It’s the love that’ll last, you tell yourself. It’s the love that makes you a better person, a better woman, a better lover. It’s the love that’ll make him get down on bended knee and ask you that question you haven’t been asked before. The question he’ll pop because…

…he loves you.

You will close your eyes and when you open them, you’ll be standing on the front porch – or the front ledge – of the home or apartment you bought. You’ll look behind you and see the children conquering their destruction, the laundry piling up in the living room, the boobs sagging a bit more every day. You’ll scroll through your old Facebook photos and you’ll see yourself laughing with your friends at a warehouse party in Brooklyn. Back when you had time to host a monthly Supper Club, back when your income was split between a little savings, a lot of wine and even more traveling. You’ll see the man you married, the hunk of a guy that your mom admired and your dad approved of, and you’ll see his hair graying. Or falling out. You’ll watch him manage a budget and manage a screaming baby – and he’ll never seem sexier to you (even if neither of you have the energy these days to get it on). You’ll wonder if you should have another baby. If you can afford one. If your body can take it. You will collapse into bed at the end of yet another exhausting day, sure that you’ll maybe steal four hours of sleep – if you’re lucky – and you’ll feel his body press up against you. And he’ll remind you. Just in case you forgot. Just in case you need to hear it. Just in case you’re feeling out of touch and out of your mind… that…

…he loves you.

You will not meet this man – not today, not tomorrow. You won’t meet him next month or next year. You won’t meet him in a sweet, unusual way or online. You won’t meet him because you try really hard or because you put yourself out there every single Friday and Saturday night, hoping for the best, working the room with your hips. You won’t meet him because you pray for him or because you want to or because you absolutely can’t imagine spending another year 100 percent single, 1,000 percent alone. You won’t meet him because it’s the right time or because you drop those 10 pounds or because you’re ready. You won’t meet him at all if you don’t accept that yes…

…he loves you.

Because you are worthy of love. That you are worthy of waiting for the right person. That you are worthy of the best of it all – the thrill of the start, the luxury of the longevity. That you are worth more than those guys you’re dating, the jerks you’re putting up with. That you are worth more than what’s in your past and who has crushed you. That you are worthy of someone truly special, someone truly a match for you, someone who truly loves you for those things that make you, you. That before there will ever be a man who loves you through the good, the bad, the wrinkled, the messy, the sloppy, the tension, the arguments, the lackluster, the magical – you have to know you are worthy of him.

And even if he hasn’t said it, even if you haven’t met him, even if you’re still working on believing he exists (we all are). Know that there is a man. There is that man for all of us. And he will love you.